About The Speaker
A trained lawyer, practitioner, and thought leader, Ms. Araia serves as head of Diaspora Public Policy for the Facebook Africa, Middle East and Turkey (AMET) Public Policy team, where she provides guidance on the company’s policy priorities and opportunities for engagement with AMET diaspora stakeholders outside of the region. Semhar has provided technical expertise, capacity building and research support to over 85 African, Asian, European and Arab diaspora communities, as well as governments and organizations, focused on the role of diasporas in international development. Previously, she served as the lead for Diaspora Partnerships at UNICEF USA and as a diaspora technical advisor to USAID, the African Union, the United Nations. She began as an attorney for the implementation of the 2000 Eritrea-Ethiopia peace agreement and later served as a policy advisor at Oxfam International, The Elders and the US House of Representatives. Semhar is also the founder of the Diaspora African Women's Network (DAWN), a global network supporting African diaspora women focused on African affairs. In 2012, she was recognized for her work by President Barack Obama as a White House Champion of Change and is also profiled as one of the five African-American individuals in the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture's Next-Generation Voices exhibit. Semhar received her juris doctor degree from Marquette University Law School and her bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Economics from the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She was born in New York City to Eritrean immigrant parents and resides in New York City.